The only reason that I'm giving this series of books three stars(I'm actually reviewing the whole series of six, not just the first -- it's one long novel in six volumes) is because I actually read the whole thing. I recall a conversation in which a fellow told me that he'd just read five Leo Frankowski novels in a row, and boy! were they bad! I myself have never even read a sentence of Leo Frankowski's writing, so I don't have an opinion on it; my question was, if they were so bad, why did you read five of them in a row?
The reason I read the whole _Night's Dawn_ epic is that I was reading it on breaks and at lunch at work. It took really a long time, and I started bogging down toward the end.
I've glanced at some of the other reviews of this work, and have many of the same criticisms. My greatest complaint about this story is that there is just entirely too much of it! Hamilton could probably have gotten his point across in a third the space (though I suspect that would still have felt bloated): this thing has too many characters, too many subplots, and too much of it comes across as filler. The plot moves forward with a glacial ponderousness, and the end still feels as though he got rushed and came up with sort of a deus ex machina.
I must say, though, that I think Hamilton has gotten much better since he wrote this. I read the _Pandora's Star_ books, and liked them much better than _The Reality Dysfunction_ et. al.
I've noticed other reviewers mentioning Hamilton's inability to get outside the Queen's English. I think it's worse than that. These books are filled with sentence fragments, and every now and then he uses an adjective in a way that suggests that he wrote this monstrosity with a thesaurus on the desk next to the keyboard. "The heavy rain went on and on and covered Durringham with an unctuous coat" (or words to that effect) -- I do recall the "unctuous" part as describing the effect of the rain. And the _Naked God_ part of the series gets worse; it looks as though the publisher cut corners on copyediting, so that we have "principal" for "principle" throughout, as well as others. The worst howler was "bowel" for "bowl." That is almost certainly not Hamilton's mistake, but it still does not enhance the reading experience. And, of course, his characters who do not speak British English do not have convincing dialogue. When he wrote this, he for instance didn't know that an American would use "around" where a Briton uses "about."
That's the bad news. The good news is that Hamilton has really weird ideas, and his writing has a sort of primitive vigor which carries you along: I did finish this thing, after all!
If you've never read anything by Peter F. Hamilton, this is not the place to start. I would recommend _Pandora's Star_ and _Judas Unleashed_ (or is it "Unchained?" Whatever.), as they are much better written -- and perhaps have better copyediting, as well.